We just had the women’s leadership summit on monday and that really got me thinking. I know that, at least for people like me, there is no discrimination in pay or position or any such thing. But I am glad that the speakers didn’t sugar coat the way things are saying that things are all equal for men and women all over the world. Because, it’s not about a conscious bias which is there, it’s about the undercurrents that exists. Like the keynote speaker, Meher Afroz said in her address, her boss held meetings late at night and assumed that 1) She will not attend them because its late and 2) she will be okay with a meeting held without her. When she brought it out and discussed with her boss, he seemed to be shocked that he had “unconsciously” discriminated against her and mended his ways. These sorta situations arise for most people – the late night discussions, the sutta break conversations and most women don’t bat an eyelid over it. They seem to think that this is NOT discrimination, it’s just their own fault or weakness or whatever it is that they think is stopping them from achieving greater things.
Girls are still asked in interviews whether they are married and will they move with their husbands. Although organizations have become conscious about asking women particularly about it, there’s still a belief that married women will move with their husbands and single women will move when they get a husband! I blame the society and its structure for embedding these beliefs within organization. We all know that women need to give birth, take care of the family at some point or the other and this will never change. I want the organizations to be cognizant of this fact and make life easier by incorporating changes for them. It’s not like women are less intelligent and less indispensable and can be “let go” off when “nature” demands, that’s just the way things have been going on for years and will continue to go unless companies decide that it is time to change. I am in awe of organizations like the Tata group which has started the second career internship programme for women who take that break in life. Women need a special programme to get back in track with all that they have missed out in those 3-6 months and it cannot be looked down upon as a weakness! Also, companies should offer flexible work hours which is going to be the nature of work in the future for both men and women. Day care centers in companies will go a long way in ensuring that women are comfortable both as a mother and a efficient employee. I am happy that there are organizations which do all these and I just want more and more companies to join this bandwagon.
All said and done, I am not a feminist and neither am I an anti-feminist. I don’t look down upon women who choose their families over their careers. I just want them to have a choice which would make life simpler anywhich way they choose to go.